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Drug Trends Alabama

Alabama State Facts
Population: 4,464,356
Law Enforcement Officers: 11,378
State Prison Population: 37,300
Probation Population: 39,697
Violent Crime Rate
National Ranking: 21 2004 Federal Drug Seizures
Cocaine: 220.7 kgs.
Heroin: 2.0 kgs.
Methamphetamine: 3.8 kgs.
Marijuana: 1,075.5 kgs.
Ecstasy: 0 tablets
Methamphetamine Laboratories: 296 (DEA, state, and local)

Drug Situation: The drug threat in Alabama is the widespread availability and abuse of illegal drugs arriving from outside the state, along with its homegrown marijuana and the increasing danger of local manufacture of methamphetamine and designer drugs. Conventional drugs such as cocaine, methamphetamine and marijuana comprise the bulk of drugs arriving in and shipped through Alabama. Colombian, Mexican, and Caribbean Drug Trafficking Organizations (DTOs), regional DTOs, as well as local DTOs and (casual or one-time traffickers) are responsible for the transportation of these drugs. Additionally, Mexican, Caribbean and regional DTOs have extensive distribution networks within the State of Alabama. Outlaw Motorcycle Gangs are also supplying methamphetamine on a very limited basis through their own distribution network within the state. Local production of methamphetamine is on the rise.

Cocaine: Although most drug seizures and arrests are attributed to marijuana, cocaine hydrochloride and crack cocaine continue to be a huge drug threat in. The addictive nature of cocaine destroys otherwise productive lives and the violence associated with cocaine distribution cripples many of Alabama's lower income neighborhoods. Although cocaine use has no ethnic or geographical boundaries in Alabama, cocaine street-level distribution is dominated by the African American culture. A large percentage of Alabama's cocaine is supplied by Mexican sources in California, Arizona, and Texas, however Alabama's proximity to Atlanta and Miami also poses a significant threat. Atlanta is a huge transportation hub for both airline and tractor-trailer traffic, thus posing a drug transportation threat to Miami has always been a major international drug importation center and several of drug trafficking organizations have ties to the southern Florida area.

Heroin: Heroin has not been a significant factor in Alabama in past years, however intelligence indicates that more recently the presence of heroin is on the rise. Most of the heroin in Alabama is transported from Jamaica; however, a recent sample from a seizure indicated the origination of the drug was New York. Of the heroin found in Alabama, the drug is not only becoming available in a purer form, it also is becoming more affordable.

Methamphetamine: Methamphetamine has become the biggest drug threat in Alabama. Although marijuana continues to be the number one drug of choice, methamphetamine has surpassed cocaine in abuse across the state. An intelligence and enforcement effort has been initiated in Alabama to identify major drug trafficking organizations involved in methamphetamine importation, manufacture, and distribution. There has been a dramatic increase in the number of clandestine labs discovered in Jackson, Marshall, Etowah, Madison, Houston, Baldwin, DeKalb, and Walker counties. Methamphetamine labs are found principally in isolated, rural communities. Seizures and intelligence show that bulk methamphetamine distribution in Alabama is dominated by DTOs supplied by sources in Mexico with transportation routes based in California, Arizona, and Texas. These Mexican DTOs utilize tractor-trailer trucks, rented or personal vehicles, airlines, and U.S. Postal Service or commercial carriers to transport methamphetamine to Alabama. Street level methamphetamine distribution and use is divided into both the Hispanic and Caucasian cultures. The gaining popularity of methamphetamine abuse in small towns and communities is directly responsible for the increase in thefts, violent assaults, and burglaries. EPIC statistics reported 289 laboratories seized in CY 2003 compared to 257 laboratories in CY 2002, indicating illicit manufacturing is on the rise.

Club Drugs: “Club Drug” abuse and distribution among young people is on the rise in Alabama. Increases in arrests, overdoses and seizures of these designer drugs been reported and indicate a trend toward increased availability and trafficking Ecstasy, LSD, and Ketamine. MDMA, LSD, GHB, and Ketamine are readily available throughout the state, more commonly found on college campuses and at venues. GHB and MDMA have emerged as the club drugs of choice and the end-users are young Caucasians at all economic levels but users are particularly college students and rave participants. Alabama’s stateside sources of supply Miami, Florida, Tennessee, and Georgia. The use and distribution of Ecstasy has continued to increase in Alabama. Intelligence reports indicate the sources of supply for Ecstasy in Alabama include Miami, Florida; Germany; Auburn, Alabama; and Nashville, Tennessee with most coming from Atlanta, Georgia. While Ecstasy is still the number one "club" drug of choice, GHB and the analogs are growing. GHB has become a significant threat in Alabama. Investigations have revealed solvents that contain GHB analogs are being obtained from the Internet. GHB overdoses have been reported in the Ozark/Dothan, Birmingham, Auburn, Mobile, Huntsville, and Decatur areas of Alabama. LSD, which can be found in many forms, has not seen a large increase of abuse in Alabama over the past several years.

Marijuana: Marijuana has always had a strong presence in Alabama. However, in the past few years, a transformation has been seen in the level of dealers in the area and in the size of loads commonly seized, especially in the Huntsville area. Only a few years ago, a seizure of 10 pounds of marijuana was fairly rare, and was considered a rather significant seizure. Today, it is not uncommon for Huntsville to seize loads of 50 to 100 pounds. The overall production of marijuana within the state continues to decline while the transportation into the state via the highway system is on the increase. The main sources of marijuana coming into the state continues to be from Mexico with connections to South America as well as through port cities of Florida and the Port of Mobile. African American and Mexican criminal groups transport multi-kilogram to multi-hundred kilogram shipments of marijuana to Alabama from the Southwest Border. Marijuana is typically transported into the state via commercial and private vehicles, and via package delivery and express mail services. Even though the highway system is a confirmed route for most of the marijuana seized in the state, another strong possibly could be the International Airports in the state.

Pharmaceuticals: Alabama continues to see an increase in diverted pharmaceuticals across the state. OxyContin is still the number one pharmaceutical drug abused across the state. The sale and production of Vicodin has increased in recent years slightly, along with the illegal use of the drug. In addition, current intelligence and investigations indicate that Alabama is a major market for Dilaudid. Distribution in Alabama has increased due to the fact that the price of heroin in the New York area has fallen dramatically causing the bottom to fall out of the market for Dilaudid. Distribution organizations are targeting the metropolitan areas of Alabama, as the price they receive for Dilaudid is higher in Alabama than in the source areas.

DEA Mobile Enforcement Teams: This cooperative program with state and local law enforcement counterparts was conceived in 1995 in response to the overwhelming problem of drug-related violent crime in towns and cities across the nation. There have been 409 deployments completed resulting in 16,763 arrests of violent drug criminals as of February 2004. There have been nine MET deployments in the State of Alabama since the inception of the program: Selma, Pritchard, Alabaster, Enterprise, Gadsden, Anniston, Bessemer, Green/Tuscaloosa Counties, and Mobile/Prichard.

DEA Regional Enforcement Teams: This program was designed to augment existing DEA division resources by targeting drug organizations operating in the United States where there is a lack of sufficient local drug law enforcement. This Program was conceived in 1999 in response to the threat posed by drug trafficking organizations that have established networks of cells to conduct drug trafficking operations in smaller, non-traditional trafficking locations in the United States. Nationwide, there have been 22 deployments completed resulting in 608 arrests of drug trafficking criminals as of February 2004. There have been no RET deployments in the State of Alabama.

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